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Retail wreck caps gains in stocks, S&P 500 closes little changed

  • Shares of Advance Auto Parts posted their worst day ever after posting weaker-than-expected earnings.
  • Dow component Home Depot posted better-than-expected earnings and sales for the previous quarter, but its stock still fell 2.7 percent.

Retail stocks fell sharply on Tuesday, capping gains in the broader market.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) fell 2.7 percent, with shares of Advance Auto Parts posting their worst day ever after posting weaker-than-expected earnings. Dick's Sporting Goods also took a hit, shedding 23 percent after the company's results missed the mark. The company also revised lower its 2017 outlook.

"Dick's Sporting Goods revising its forecast down is very bad, especially for a company in an area thought to be 'Amazon proof,'" said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital. "I think the negative sentiment is spilling over across the retail sector."

Dow component Home Depot posted better-than-expected earnings and sales for the previous quarter, but its stock still fell 2.7 percent. Shares of Amazon, meanwhile, closed flat.

The broader stock market ended the session little changed. The Dow Jones industrial average rose just 5.28 points to end the day at 21,998.99, with Home Depot contributing the most losses. The S&P 500 closed 0.05 percent lower at 2,464.61, with telecommunications lagging. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.1 percent to 6,333.01.

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Meanwhile, bank stocks rose after better-than-expected economic data lifted Treasury yields.

Retail sales jumped 0.6 percent in July, more than the expected increase of 0.4 percent. Meanwhile, import prices rebounded after two straight months of declines, advancing 0.1 percent.

The Empire State manufacturing index spiked to 25.2 in August from just 9.8 in July. The benchmark 10-year yield rose to 2.26 percent after the data deluge. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) rose as much as 1.2 percent before trading 0.1 percent higher.

"The economic data is very supportive for the market," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "This is a very good cross-current for a market that's looking for a new catalyst."

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

However, the data helped increase market expectations for a Federal Reserve rate hike by the end of the year. Market expectations for a rate hike in December were at about 54 percent Tuesday, up from just 37 percent on Monday, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

"It's only one month's worth of data but it's pretty good data," said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, referring to the retail sales numbers released earlier on Tuesday. "The big story is the low starting point" for rate hike expectations entering Tuesday.

LeBas noted that most investors weren't expecting the Fed to tighten monetary policy after weak inflation data was released Friday. "Now with some good data, we're seeing rate hike expectations buoyed a bit."

Stocks posted sharp gains on Monday, with the information technology sector closing at a record high. Last week, stocks posted their second-worst weekly performance of the year, with the S&P falling 1.43 percent.

Investors also breathed a sigh of relief after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would wait for further action out of the U.S. before making a decision surrounding a missile strike on Guam.

"It feels like we may be able to work our way into a stalemate," said Wunderlich's Hogan. "With that in the backdrop, we can shift our focus to fundamentals."

Gold, considered a traditionally safe trade, saw prices fall $10.70 to settle at $1,279.70 per ounce. Wall Street had loaded up on safe havens last week as they hedged against potential escalation in the war of words between President Donald Trump and the North Korean government.

"As long as the economic expansion continues, the markets are likely to recover from geopolitical related volatility," Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede, said in a note.

"[T]his 8 year bull market has coincided with geopolitical events such as the Arab Spring, fears of a European Union breakup, annexation of Crimea and the Greek Debt Crisis. Conversely, some geopolitical events can have prolonged negative effects on the market; the key is to assess the probability of economic impact of each event," Pride said.

Stocks have seen strong gains this year, with the S&P 500 surging approximately 10 percent. But some widely followed money managers, like DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach, have been cautious about the market lately.

David Tepper, the famed hedge fund manager of Appaloosa Management, told CNBC on Tuesday he still loves stocks, adding "you're nowhere near an overheated market."

—CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs contributed to this report.